An Israeli Real Estate mogul partners with Ormat and gene company Evogene to investigate castor oil crops in Africa.
L.L Biofuel Namibia of the Leviev Group and Evogene (announced yesterday) that together with Orfuel, a subsidiary of geothermal power giant Ormat, they will establish a new company focused on the growth of specialized castor plants for use as feedstock for biodiesel. The new company will be headquartered in Namibia, with operations in Namibia and possibly other locations in Africa.
According to the terms of the agreement, the new company will examine various castor varieties in field tests in Namibia, and following the selection of best performing varieties, the new company will work to commercialize and grow the selected varieties on a commercial scale in Namibia, and possibly in other locations in Africa.
Evogene will provide the new company with the castor varieties for evaluation, and will utilize its knowledge and capabilities in plant growth. The Leviev Group will provide access to lands for crop growth in Namibia and logistical infrastructure for the project. In addition, the Leviev Group will contribute its experience and knowledge in establishing projects in Namibia and in other southern African countries.
The castor varieties to be supplied by Evogene will be selected from varieties being developed in a previously announced collaboration between Evogene and Orfuel, initiated in September 2007. Under this collaboration, which has received a grant from the BIRD Foundation (Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation), Evogene and Orfuel are jointly developing non edible plants, such as castor, for biodiesel commercial production.
A special focus of this collaboration is that these plants can be grown commercially in non arable areas.
About Castor Oil
Castor is a high oil yielding crop and there are vast non arable lands available in Namibia that potentially could be used for this purpose. Thus it is anticipated that the cost of biodiesel feedstock produced using specialized castor crops grown in Namibia is expected to be significantly lower than cost of biodiesel produced from crops currently used for this purpose, such as soybean and canola.
“This collaboration fits well into Evogene’s business model in the field of biodiesel, and constitutes an additional stage towards commercialization of the plants developed through the joint project with Orfuel in one of the potential target locations,” stated Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s president and CEO. “We are convinced that with our extensive capabilities in plants together with the vast experience of the Leviev Group in Africa, we will be able to develop improved feedstock addressing the needs of the alternative fuel industry.”
Leviev Group is already active in Namibia through mining, diamond refinement, constructions, infrastructure and agriculture. Evogene is a leading developer of improved plants for the ag-biotech and biofuel industries.
(Image credit: Kristina’s Oil)